When we refer to Kalachakra we may be referring to the deity himself, to the mandala dedicated to him, or to the body of teachings associated with this deity. The teachings, called Kalachakra Tantra, are considered to be some of the most advanced and complex in Tibetan Buddhism. In recent years they have been publicly proclaimed by the Dalai Lama to be especially important for this degenerate age. According to His Holiness, the Kalachakra teachings can help promote world peace.
The Story’s Origin
The Buddha, while appearing on Vulture Peak in Northern India to recite the Prajnaparamita Sutra (known in English as the Heart Sutra, a famous discourse on the role of emptiness in Buddhism), simultaneously appeared in Dharanikota and delivered the Kalachakra teachings to King Suchandra of Shambhala. Shambhala was a sacred mythical kingdom that is iconically representative of virtue in the Tibetan historical narrative. Fiercely pious warrior kings ruled there for centuries and dedicated themselves to the protection and spread of Buddhism.
The Dalai Lama and the Kalachakra
Although thought to have once been a carefully guarded secret of the Shambhala Kingdom, the Kalachakra Tantra is now widely known. The Dalai Lama himself has given thirty-three separate initiations into this practice all over the world, including in Tibet, India, Switzerland, Canada, and the United States.
In an essay on his website, His Holiness writes, “the Kalachakra initiations empower the disciple to practice the yoga of the Kalachakra tantra, and, ultimately, to achieve the state of Shri Kalachakra.” As with other mandala practices, the goal here is for the initiate to “enter” into the mandala and identify with the deity represented therein.